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The Liebster Award: 10 Question Blog Hop

Many thanks to CP extraordinaire Justin D. Herd for inviting me to this blog hop!

How does this work? I'll let Justin explain:

Well, Kathryn supplied me and a few others with the questions and we answer them, then give some of our own. The blog hop continues and spins around, all magical like. Once you're done here, be sure to check out my compatriots: Maria Ann Green, Marisa Mohi, Constance Burris and Mari Farthing for their responses, as well as Kathleen S. Allen's original post that captured my lovely wife's attention!

Shall we begin?

1. What is your WIP about?

A cripplingly shy space janitor accidentally lets a rat escape from its cryo-stasis during an extended intergalactic supply run. This is a problem because this genetically engineered "rat" is as big as a lion, scale-armored, carnivorous, short-tempered, and highly destructive once it gets started gnawing on wires and pipes. If anyone finds out, Dell will lose her job (at best—people who botch jobs for the Company tend to disappear), plus everyone will yell at her and she will die of shame. So she tries to catch and return the animal to cryo-stasis all on her own.

In the process, she uncovers evidence of sabotage on the ship and collusion with pirates. She soon finds out that the monstrous creature she let loose is the least dangerous animal on this ship. The animals in the other ships are even more terrifying... and even less human.

Armed with a mop and a roll of duct tape, Dell faces monsters both human and inhuman, language barriers, anxiety attacks, buggy technology, dead batteries, the silent vacuum of space, and dirty floors. If she ever wants to see her home and mom again, she'll have to overcome her fears and seek allies in the most unlikely places.

2. What's your favorite line so far?

"Regular people might go years without being truly frightened, but bowel-knotting dread is a fact of life for someone as shy as Dell and as a result she has learned not to let it stop her."

3. What happens in your favorite scene from your WIP?

I'm pretty fond of the rat-creature's origin story. A geneticist was up way too late and had drunk way too much coffee with way too many shots of Bailey's in it. His subsequent genetic miscalculation resulted in a fascinating and improbable giant-rat-lizard-thing, which promptly devoured the corporate safety inspector. This disaster would have gotten the geneticist fired, but the PR department saved his butt. They gave it the name "Komodo shepherd" and billed it as "the new pit bull" for roughneck colonists. Now everyone on Orion 5 wants one. The possibility of it eating the mailman only adds to the caché .

4. If you and your main character were in a coffee shop, what would you discuss?

Music. I'd break out the Y-cable and plug both our headphones into the same player, and we'd listen to the same song, not speaking or making eye contact.

5. What does your main character's personal space (i.e. office, bedroom, etc.) look like?

Cramped. As the lowest-ranking crewmember, she has the crappiest cabin. Though she keeps her tools neat, she has much less respect for her personal belongings, so it's pretty much a shambles. Laundry in piles that only make sense to her, spools of assorted specialty tape, stray spoons, that sort of thing.

6. If you had to choose a director to translate your story, who would it be and why?

I don't really know many directors, but of my very short list, I would pick Guillermo Del Toro for his dark, wry sense of humor.

7. What have you struggled with most while working on this WIP?

Science. I like my sci-fi to be "hard" insofar as that I want everything to make sense and be theoretically possible, but I don't want it to be intrusive in the story. I'm trying to strike a balance so hard sci-fi fans will be happy with the solid foundation AND space opera fans will enjoy the story without feeling like they got punched in the face with the theory of relativity.

8. What is your favorite genre? Does this book fall into that category?

Fantasy, and no, it does not. I like sci-fi movies, but I normally dislike reading sci-fi because it's usually either so "hard" it spends more time on science than on characters, or so "soft" the world's scientific logic is internally inconsistent. Either end of the continuum drives me up a wall. SILENT SPACE is me trying to write the book I want to read.

9. What are you listening to while working on this WIP? Or what album fits the story best?

I had to make a new Pandora radio station for this project. Dell rolled her eyes at my usual writing music (orchestral movie soundtracks like "Two Steps From Hell") and demanded more guitar solos. It's all Joe Satriani, Ingwe Malmsteen, and other guitar-driven instrumental rock and metal.

10. How involved do you get on a first draft? Do you worry about things like theme?

I don't "worry" about theme, no. But I do think about it a little. I like to share my first drafts, so I try to write something readable on my first go. I know a lot of people say that's unhealthy, but I started writing originally with fan fiction, where it's standard practice to post your story one chapter at a time, as you write it. So I got settled into a habit where each chapter is outlined, drafted, and polished as if it's a stand-alone story, then shared. I find sharing this way has a positive effect on story outline, which tends to morph gently as I get feedback. People fall in love with a character, I give em more screentime. Something isn't resonating, I scale it back.

As a result, though, I found that I tended to get super attached to my first draft and have trouble making the sweeping changes I needed to once I was done and ready to edit. Reason being, I'd never edited further back than one chapter. Once you post something online at, it's permanent—your readers can't be expected to go back and re-read stuff if you change it. This gave me a lot of trouble when it came time to edit my first "real" novel, CHAINBREAKER.

So, with SILENT SPACE, I'm sharing with fewer people (mostly just my mom, actually) and trying harder to stay "loose" and uncommitted to it. At the same time, though, I feel like the experience of editing CHAINBREAKER taught me a lot, and I feel like I'm not going to need a burn-it-to-the-ground rewrite on this one. I'm anticipating going through and fleshing out characters a bit, adding a subplot or two, and solidifying my worldbuilding, but that should be fun.

What I AM trying to get right is pacing and mood. That's the only part of SILENT SPACE that I would say I "worry" about while writing it. I also spend more time polishing and choosing the right word than one normally would with a zero draft because I do intend to show it to at least one person, and I want them to be able to give me feedback on the story, not the grammar.

Want me to tag you next? Contact me and I'll send you 10 questions and add your name here!

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